Auburn standoff ends peacefully

AUBURN — A 4 1/2-hour standoff that involved Auburn police and the state's Police Tactical Team ended peacefully Monday when Randolph Nutter was taken into custody.

Jose Leiva,Sun Journal

A member of the Maine State Police tactical squad gets into position during the standoff in the Shaw's parking lot on Monday.

Submitted photo

Randolph Nutter

Jose Leiva,Sun Journal

Auburn police officers take cover behind a police cruiser surrounding the suspect inside a Jeep Cherokee during the standoff at Shaw's Plaza in Auburn on Monday.

Jose Leiva,Sun Journal

Auburn police officers take position behind their cruiser and customer vehicles during a standoff at Shaw's Plaza in Auburn on Monday.

Lindsay Tice, Sun Journal

Christine Simpson of Winthrop, a longtime friend of Randolph Nutter, told the media during the standoff that she had talked to him while he was in the car via cell phone.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal (file)

Randy Nutter at the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2009.

Jose Leiva,Sun Journal

Members of the Maine State Police tactical unit and Auburn police department take cover behind cars as they surround a suspect inside a Jeep Cherokee during the standoff at Shaw's Plaza in Auburn on Monday.

Jose Leiva,Sun Journal

An Auburn police officer takes his position behind his cruiser during a standoff at Shaw's Plaza in Auburn on Monday.

Scott Thistle, Sun Journal

A police officer approaches the gray Jeep Cherokee. 

Police gather in the parking lot at Shaw's supermarket on Center Street in Auburn while they attempt to disarm a driver in a gray Jeep Cherokee.

Nutter, 45, of Mechanic Falls, was in custody at the Androscoggin County Jail as of Monday night.

Around 11 a.m. yesterday, Auburn police were dispatched to the parking lot of Walmart at 100 Mount Auburn Ave. after receiving a report that a man had snatched a purse from a 68-year-old woman.

"It was initially reported that the suspect displayed a gun and took off on foot towards BJ’s Wholesale Club where he got into a silver Jeep and drove away," Auburn Police said in a release.

The vehicle was later found by officer Andrew Shute in the parking lot of Shaw's supermarket on Center Street. The standoff began when Shute made contact with Nutter and he refused to get out of the Jeep.

At that time, "officers developed additional information that the man was suicidal and armed with a handgun," according to police.

Officers set up a secure perimeter around Nutter's vehicle and evacuated Shaw's Plaza.

The Maine State Police Tactical Team and Crisis Negotiation Team responded to assist Auburn Police.

At around 12:30 p.m., members of the State Police Tactical Team, with shields raised, were getting in place to assist Auburn police, including stationing a rifleman on the roof at the nearby JC Penney store.

Police evacuated the parking lot at the Auburn Mall across from where the Cherokee was parked and trained long guns and handguns on Nutter and his car.

All of the stores in the Shaw's plaza were evacuated. JC Penney was also evacuated, as was much of the mall building before its doors were locked. Most of the customers left the mall as soon as they were informed of the standoff, but many of the employees remained in the mall's common areas.

George's Pizza, across Center Street from the Shaw's parking lot, was also evacuated. Additionally, police closed down Center Street during the standoff.

Until about 1 p.m. police were attempting to talk to Nutter through a bullhorn, and could be heard repeating: “Roll down your window. Throw out your keys. Show your hands. We can end this peacefully. Do so now.”

They were also offering "to get you the help you're asking for."

During the standoff, Kayt DeMerchant posted on the Sun Journal's Facebook page: "I was caught right in the middle of this. The police are doing an excellent job. They have closed Shaw's and got me to my car safely and out of the parking lot quickly. I am so glad I did not have my kids with me. Scary, scary stuff!"

At 12:55, more than an hour after the standoff began, Nutter partially rolled his window down after police said they couldn't hear him very well. Minutes later, after he had tossed his keys out the window, he rolled the window back up. Police had asked him to stop using his cell phone.

Conversation between police and Nutter quieted about 1:05 p.m., and Nutter appeared to have stopped communicating with police through his car window.

The standoff ended around 3:30 p.m., when Nutter "agreed to surrender and was taken into custody without incident," according to the police statement. Nutter was initially charged with theft and was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail where his bail was set at $500.

An Airsoft handgun was seized from Nutter’s vehicle, the police statement said.

By 9 p.m., Nutter had been charged with a second offense: criminal threatening. His bail had been raised to $1,060.

According to Auburn Police Chief Phillip Crowell, police will conduct an internal after-action briefing to talk about their response to this incident.

During the standoff, Christine Simpson, 32, of Winthrop, identified herself to the media as someone who has known Nutter since they were children and said she talked to him “as this was all going down. He said he was surrounded by police,” Simpson said.

According to Simpson, Nutter is a mechanic who has raced cars at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Nutter has five speeding convictions and one conviction of operating under the influence in 2008, according to state Department of Motor Vehicles record.

Nutter also has several criminal convictions, including criminal trespass in 1990, violation of a protection order and violating conditions of release in 2007, according to state records.

Log jam

The standoff created traffic jams in various spots around the Twin Cities.

During the standoff, the Veterans Bridge and northbound and southbound lanes of Center Street in front of Shaw's were closed to all traffic.

Police re-routed Center Street traffic around the back side of the Auburn Mall and Auburn Public Works crews set up barricades blocking access to the Shaw's and mall parking lots.

Because of the bridge closure, traffic was clogged along the Longley Memorial Bridge. At 3:30 p.m., a long line of cars could be seen running down Court Street in Auburn and Main Street in Lewiston.

Though Center Street and Veterans Bridge were reopened moments after Nutter was taken into custody, it was more than an hour before Lewiston Public Works announced that traffic was back to normal.

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 's picture

ironic last name

ironic last name

Diana Currier's picture


Looks like APD had it all under control, great job guys, thanks for protecting...

 's picture


I work at the Auburn Mall and was checking your website and found pretty distasteful that you have a picture of a gentleman with his son on your website. Do you know for sure that this is the man involved? Any consideration for the child if it is? What poor taste.

Kristina Gailloux's picture

you're silly

I think you are just so silly for posting this. I don't see the guys son anywhere on the website...and I'm pretty sure they aren't going to put pictures of someone on their site unless they know its the person doing it. duh.

 's picture


If you noted a response the sunjournal did admit is was an error and cropped the picture.


I fail to see how publishing

I fail to see how publishing the registered vehicle owner/s is dangerous.

Public information.

Doesn't mean that the registered owner is the person inside the vehicle.

Thank you Sun-Journal for having the most up-to-date news availble! All of the TV news stations have limited information.

I hope that this stand-off ends quickly and peacefully.

Kim Berry's picture

there is no EDIT option, so, if I may . . .

. . . re affirm point please ;

I was wondering this, Now I am not a cop, so I cannot give qualified legal comments, but I can empathize. What if I was in their shoes? Would I want to be dealing with an armed suspect, trying to negotiate with them, while his cell phone was ringing off the hook because his name was put online? Is that possible that did happen today? Wouldn't that just be a big pain in the butt?

I am curious about this sort of stuff, and I am most definitely interested in other’s opinions, even if we do not agree. If you were not there, than you cannot fully comprehend what it feels like when you are in that situation.

Now, I did notice that when some one complained about a photo posted related to this article, that it was removed, and edited, with a respectful response from our Moderator. And no one had any further issue to speak about that. Only have an issue about ME speaking up about this thing of naming people, while it was still going down.

It does not resonate well with me. But, I am only a citizen. It was not me standing there with an assault rifle pointed at an armed and distraught man in a car, in the middle of a loaded grocery store parking lot, while trying to keep distractions at a minimum.

Greatful all ended well, and the man will hopefully be getting the he desperately needs.

Kim Berry's picture

SunJournal, you are putting added risks into ...

.. this situation, by releasing the names of the people that this vehicle is registered too! That is very dangerous, and it should not have been put on line like this, while the officers are still dealing with the situation.

Shame on you!

You have a few facts incorrect. Who did you get this information from? I was right there, when it went down. I will not speak publicly about any details about this. That is what causes cases to be complicated and put them in jeapardy.

Please wait to post details like that, until you have been given persmission to do so, with the data they are safe releasing to you!

Jason Theriault's picture


How does it put anyone in danger. The whole thing appears to be contained at this point.

Kim Berry's picture

oh maybe not "danger" but certainly not appropriate . . .

, , , , , at the time it was published, in my opinion.

considering it was still going on at the time.

Kim Berry's picture

interfering with ongoing investigation by causing ....

.. . . . . uneccessary distractions to the alleged crimminal AND officers involved, is what my concern is. I pray to God that this release of (what I thought was protected) information, will not interfere with this situation. And that now that the names have been unofficially released that these people do not get flooded with phone calls, text messsages and all that crazy stuff!

I can be an informed reader, by having your published GENERAL information, about what TYPE of situation, WHERE it is located at, WHO has responded for resolution of the situation. Along with a brief warning about a TRAFFIC DELAY or precaution. But, I do not see a focus on public warning of the traffic delay here.

I am sorry SJS, if it is possible that you may not share my concern.

I appreciate having the chance to be able to voice my opinion here.


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